McCoy is still missing. Kirk is injured. Bugs have attacked bugs. There’s some weird quadraphasic readings. Oh, and Ambassador Cassady is in charge, where does that leave the Enterprise crew? This week IDW brings an end to their five issue Mission’s End series which tells the story of the final days of Kirk and crew’s five year mission. We wrap it up with our review of the final two issues (and the series as a whole) below.
MISSION’S END #4 REVIEW
The fourth issue of "Mission’s End" picks up moments after the end of the last issue. Spock hovers over Kirk’s limp and unconscious body as the crawlers are attacking the spiders. In something of what appears to be an uprising or rebellion by the previously believed non-sentient crawlers, one of the pieces of the "Heart of God" is stolen and, despite being chased by a Federation shuttle, spirited away by the crawlers. Cassady finds herself the ranking Starfleet officer, and Spock turns to her for guidance, while pointing out the requirements of the Prime Directive. In the meantime, McCoy finds himself in a situation where he is forced to pull rank on the security detail assigned to his portion of the away mission. At the same time, Uhura has discovered strange communications from within the Enterprise, and Scotty and Sulu are forced to deal with the disturbance.
Ty Templeton, the author of this final 5-year mission story, is starting to pull the strings of the various plot threads together. There are four major disparate plotlines at the start of the issue, but by the halfway mark, the connections are starting to become apparent. Templeton obviously knows his classic Trek crew and revels in reference dropping throughout, from McCoy’s southern love of the Mint Julep to Sulu’s martial arts, to Uhura’s abilities. He also presents us with some more references to the Orion Syndicate, something that was hinted at in the first issue, and a group that has made appearances in a couple of the other IDW series to date.
After a drop in quality in the artwork in the third issue by Stephen Molnar, the quality picks up again. There are still occasional difficulties in differentiating characters from each other, but overall, the artwork is back up to the levels of the first two issues. One of Molnar’s best moments in this issue is when Cassady is having a crisis of faith over Kirk’s unconscious body near the shuttlecraft. His lines are simple, but bring out the conflict and confusion in her body language as she tries to decide what the best course of action is and whether her past desires are still relevant. Neil Uyetake takes over the lettering and continues the jagged, and somewhat difficult to read, style for the insects, and makes the change in letterer invisible.
MISSION’S END #5 REVIEW
The fifth, and final, issue of "Mission’s End" leads off with Kirk trying to figure out what has gone wrong and how to salvage the situation. He does not know about the Orion Syndicate fleet faced by Scotty in the skies above, but he does have some ideas as to where to start, based on his past experiences on the planet, nearly five years previous. In fact, he starts off by locating McCoy to a very thankful "I was wondering when you were going to show up". Kirk’s next step is figuring out how to resolve the situation without further bloodshed.
There are a few leaps in this issue that force the reader to write parts of the story on his or her own, but most of them play out like a television episode, there are only one or two that stand out as awkward. Ty Templeton brings his story to a close by the mid-point of this book, allowing for an elongated epilogue, where the real story notes for the three main characters are hit. This epilogue reads like the last 10 minutes of Deep Space Nine’s final episode, "What You Leave Behind". In a sense, this is what the last episode of the original Star Trek could have played out like at the end… if it had been given the chance to get to five seasons to cover the original mission. Templeton shows, over these eight pages, that he understands the characters and how they grow from the ones we saw in the original and animated series to the ones encountered ten years later in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also makes their partings believable and sympathetic.
Molnar’s best moments of this issue are, like the last one, the introspective moments. The first fourteen pages play out as expected, but once the wrapup scenario begins, he manages to capture the expressions and moments in a way that feels like the montages and character moments from a television episode. The colors help this section, and despite the occasional 1980s DC Star Trek comic visages at times, the epilogue stands out as the best portion of the entire story, both from art and story points of view.
Overall, the Mission’s End series started well, had some moments where it lagged a bit, but came together at the end for a fantastic final issue. Templeton waited until the fifth issue to tie the first and last missions of the Enterprise under Kirk’s command, but did it in a convincing way that did not seem out of character for the rest of the plotline. Other than a dip in the middle, the artwork was consistently good too. This is not the best of the original series comic stories to date, but the epilogue stands comfortably with the best of IDW’s Star Trek works.
Issue 5 available now – TPB coming in October
Star Trek Mission’s End #4 and #5 are available in comic stores now. You can order them from TFAW.
A trade paperback combining all 5 issues comes out in October, you can pre-order that now from Amazon